GGPD DUI checkpoint honors fallen Costa Mesa Fire Capt. Mike Kreza

By Lou Ponsi

DUI checkpoints staged on Orange County roadways are similar, regardless of the law enforcement agency running them.

Well-lit signs alert drivers of the approaching checkpoint as vehicles are generally funneled into two lanes by narrowing rows of orange cones.

Officers then will stop vehicles based on a pre-determined formula: every vehicle, every other vehicle, every third vehicle, etc.

Garden Grove PD Det. Paul Tessier, left, and Officer Gerald Jordan check drivers during a DUI checkpoint on Harbor Boulevard on Dec. 22.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

The checkpoint set up by Garden Grove PD along Harbor Boulevard on Dec. 22 added an element that would show drivers the real cost of intoxicated driving … the human cost.

Poster-sized photos of fallen Costa Mesa Fire Capt. Mike Kreza, posing with his wife, Shanna, and daughters Audrey, Kaylie and Layla, were positioned along both lines so that drivers passing through the checkpoint couldn’t help but see the images.

Kreza, 44, was riding his bicycle along Alicia Parkway at 8 a.m. Nov. 3 when he was struck by a van driven by an allegedly impaired 25-year-old man, who was arrested at the scene.

Drivers see a poster informing them of a Costa Mesa Fire captain who was killed by a suspected drunk driver as GGPD Officer Jason Muro helps conduct a DUI checkpoint.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

Kreza died two days later, prompting murder charges against Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo.

GGPD traffic officer Tom Capps, a longtime friend of Kreza and his wife, dedicated the checkpoint to Kreza.

The department also is dedicating every DUI arrest made during December to Kreza, Capps said.

Garden Grove PD Officer Tom Capps, a longtime friend of Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza, is interviewed by local TV about Kreza during a GGPD DUI checkpoint. Capt. Kreza was killed by a suspected DUI driver.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

“We want people to see that there is an actual effect and consequence for driving impaired, that can either be on drugs, alcohol or both,” Capps said. “There are real consequences when families lose their loved ones. We’re hoping people see that and it will make them think twice before drinking and driving or taking pills or illicit drugs and driving.”

Capps asked Shanna Kreza’s permission to display the family portrait at the checkpoint and she was 100-percent behind the idea, the officer said.

“She said that anything that gets his story out is a great idea,” Capps said.

While Capps isn’t the avid runner that Kreza was, he plans to honor his friend by running a leg of law enforcement’s 120-mile Baker to Vegas relay on March 23 and 24.

Garden Grove PD Officer Ronnie Reyes talks to drivers during a DUI checkpoint on Harbor Boulevard.
Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge

“Whenever I get tired running on the treadmill, I’ll think about him,” Capps said.

The checkpoint was managed by GGPD Off. Austin Laverty, who said individuals who make the potentially deadly decision to drink and drive might not consider the human toll when they get behind the wheel.

“But now they can see a victim of DUI driving,” Laverty said. “There is no shortage of Ubers and Lyfts. It would be a horrible way to spend the holidays if you had family member killed at the hands of a DUI driver or killed someone because of a DUI. Just avoid driving impaired at all costs.”